"Marik's an ahmet. A soul-eater."
Yami goes completely white. It'd be amusing to see if this wasn't my - well, him. That, and we're talking about Malik's darker half devouring Yami's little brother's soul. And I do mean 'little' brother. Yuugi might look closer to seventeen than fourteen now, which we have yet to explain the hows of, by the by, but he's still a shrimp. The only one here shorter than him is Seto's Mini-Me, after all, and I seriously doubt either of them are getting any taller any time soon.
"What about Malik?" He seems to be as casual as I was pretending to be, but his eyes reveal otherwise. He's nervous, so he's plotting to cover all the contingencies. It's a good strategy. It keeps a body from getting too worked up - and gives you plenty of plans to fall back on for later. "What is he?"
I shrug. "Completely human, as far as they've ever told me. I used to run with them back in Tokyo, before the brat and I came to Domino."
The sad thing is, Yami or I could very easily separate them. Since there's such a clear line between the two, it'd be easy to do. It'd be like cutting along the dotted lined. Damn thing is, it'd be the wrong thing to do - and probably the last thing we ever did. They'd kill us then break down beyond all repair. They've coexisted like they are so long that they wouldn't be able to handle being separated. They're like... symbiotes, I suppose, intertwined to the point that removing one would kill the other. And Ishtar is the best guy I've ever had work for me, all strangeness aside. I'll probably be the one to kill him, but I won't enjoy it and the only way it'll be soon is if his kitty stalking turns dangerous or he does something to Yuugi, which in turn means he does something to Yami. So, all in all, I hope he behaves because I'd hate to have to kill them.
"I'm going to tell Aibou to barricade himself in Ryou-kun's room," Yami mutters as he starts past me.
I hesitate a second, not sure how to communicate what I need to say, then reach out and touch Yami's arm, pausing him. "He'll be fine. As long as Malik and I are around, we can keep Marik held back."
That clearly does little to alleviate his worries. "All the same..."
I nod, releasing his arm. "Go see about your brother. I'll be here."
"How long till Malik gets here?"
I glance down at the watch I 'borrowed' off him. "Probably about five." Even though I told them to let him in, the Weres watching the gate are too cautious to not check a person as strange as Malik coming here. Hells, they didn't want to let Mahaado in here the first two or three times, to say of nothing of Mana. They still don't want to let her come in when she and the brat are having one of their marathons, and she shows up already hyped up on caffeine. I shudder to think. But they should stop Malik if they stop those two. Although it is after dark now, so the vamp guards'll be out. I like the Were ones better; they're more thorough. I'm waiting for the day they check me - or even better, Seth. Wait a minute. What was I saying again? Oh yeah, Malik. Where's my mind going lately? "It might take a little longer, though, because he has get by security."
"I'm just going to check on him a second, then I'll be back down."
I can barely nod before he's up the stairs, rather reminiscent of Mokuba tearing after Kitty, and I can only chuckle at his enthusiasm when it comes to Ghost Mini-Me. I have to distinguish between Mini-Mes now: we have Ghost Mini-Me, Yuugi, and Vampire Mini-Me, Noa, now after all.
So it looks like I've got a little time to myself for once. That doesn't exactly happen often anymore, since I ended up in the hospital. I park it on one of the steps of the inside staircase and lean against the banister. The scrapes on the heels of my hands catches my attention again and I glance down at them. Nothing too terribly bad this time, not like a couple of months ago. If I look hard, I can see tiny lines running along my left hand: scars from pieces of glass that exploded out at me. Gods, those were a miserable couple of days, though I can't say they were all bad, since they did give me time to get to know Yami better. I mean, till then he was just my boss's spoiled grandson. Now, though...
A knock on the door breaks my trail of thought before I can get off into dangerous territory. It sounds like the nutcase's particular knock, anyway. The wolves' paranoia is starting to get to me, I think. I'm going to be starting to jump at shadows soon at the rate I'm going. Anyway, Sara's answering the door. Now she's one of the few non-Kaiba vampires in this house I approve of. To me, she's old, turned around the same time as Noa (but physically a good ten years older) and she's strong as shit, but she has no power to back up that strength. She's nearly as strong as a Were, but she'll never be anything in the vampire hierarchy - and that seems to suit her just fine. She's content, it appears, to baby every single one of the Kaibas and their houseguests. Being English herself, she's even helping Ryou with his English language homework, so I like her. I just wish I knew more about her, but it's not like I know that much about the other vampires in this house, excluding Mokuba now, except that Seth and Noa cannot be Japanese. Mokuba, the reason I think I now know as much about him as the other Kaibas do, likes to babble. A lot.
And, yep, it's Malik. He breezes right by her and does one of those running-flying leaps of his that, frankly, terrify the shit out of me. I have half a second to see him coming, debate trying to get out of his way, realize there's no way I can avoid him at this range, and brace myself for the impact. I could have used some more time to prepare. How does a skinny kid from Egypt - who's a vegetarian, at that! - get so heavy on Japanese food. "Bakura!" Oww, that crack was my back hitting one of the stairs. Am I - Nope, I can still feel my toes. Please don't let Yami get down here till I get Malik off me.
"Kura?" The gods hate me. It's a fact; they hate me. God damn it. "What's going on down here?"
I glance up and watch upside down as Yami comes down the steps before bracing myself and giving Malik a hard shove off me. "Getting attacked by an overenthusiastic nutcase. You know, the usual."
Malik, damn him, lands on his feet with hardly a stumble. I swear, he's more of a cat than Kitty sometimes. "That was mean, Bakura. I haven't seen you in forever, and you're shoving me around."
I sit up slowly, wincing as muscles make it known that I did hit them and they are going to be mad at me for a while. Yami extends a hand down to me and pulls me the rest of the way to my feet when I take it. He doesn't let go, but something tells me that this time that's so I can't get away. Not that I'd make a strategic retreat and leave him alone with Malik, but I sure as hell might try to avoid the confrontation we're no doubt going to have once the nutball's gone.
"And that's different from normal how?" I shoot back at said nutcase. I swear that has to be a good portion of the reason he likes me: I don't run in terror from him and I don't take any shit from him. I just wish he'd quit jumping me like that. "Anyway, we need to talk."
"So you said on the phone." Instant wariness, have to love it. "What about?"
I glance past him to the woman still standing at the door. Sara's watching Malik like a hawk watches its prey - and I'm pretty sure her eyes are glowing blue. Not a good sign, means she's going to go all Super Dragon Lady Kisara on him soon. What can I say; she's good at getting rid of threats and people don't see her coming because she's this little dainty white-haired thing in a maid uniform. Hmm, I guess we should take this away from her. "Let's get out of the hall first."
...And Malik's staring at me like I've grown another head or something. It doesn't take him long to put his thoughts into words either. "What the fuck, Bakura? You move in with Kaiba and start fucking a Mutou," he's gesturing wildly, somehow managing to get the entire front hall in the 'with Kaiba', as well as nearly smacking Yami when he mentions him, "and suddenly you're domesticated?!" And he's shrieking. He sounds like a cat with a chair on its tail.
Yami's bristling and, hell, I'm rapidly moving towards pissed. "Malik?"
A smile breaks across his face. Seriously, you'd think I just told him he won the lottery or something. "Not too domesticated, I see. The Tokyo street punk I remember is still in there."
"Fuck you, Malik."
"I don't think Mutou there would like that much," he fires right back.
And the sad thing is, he's right. Yami's moving from bristling to growling, and I don't think that's exactly a good sign. In fact, I'm going to put it in a very bad category. I point at the door to the den and order, "Just get in there, nutball, before I sic the scarier dragon lady on you."
He saunters in there, smirking like he's a cat who just ate the canary, and I turn to Yami. "If he's getting on your nerves, you don't have to stay. He's good at that."
"He's also a little too good at molesting you." He squeezes my hand a little. "No one's getting a free shot at my boyfriend."
And there it is: one of those words we've been dancing around using these past few weeks. I guess this makes it official now. I also guess I was misreading him earlier. Maybe that was yet another possessive display or something. I wouldn't put it past him after all. I'm waiting to get marked one of these nights. Possessive, sweet bastard.
I squeeze his hand in return. "Let's get this over with and get the nutcase out of here." And with those words, we head into the living room, leaving the door open a bit so if Sara wants to listen in, she can. One of the best back-ups I can think of.
Why am I not surprised to see him going through everything he can get his hands on? Hmph, probably because Seto's TV remote is worth more than we could make in a month's worth of shoplifting and pick-pocketing back in Tokyo, to say nothing of the bottles of wine (never mind that no one in this house drinks) that are valued in the thousands. That's American dollars, by the by, not yen. The more I find out about Goza-baka by living here, the more I dislike him. Like I said, I'm starting to adopt the Kaibas and I don't tolerate people hurting my family.
Still, I don't think Malik's nicked anything, yet, and I should probably try to keep it that way. "Anyway," he turns to face me, "the reason I called you here..."
"Yeah?" Looks like I've got his full attention, probably not a good thing, but oh well. "it sounded important on the phone."
"I guess it is. I called you here to say, I don't need an inside source at Kaiba Corp anymore."
"I don't have to work there anymore?" Any second now, he's going to start bouncing like a little kid in the candy store. I can just see it.
"What's the point? I mean, as you so delicately pointed out," I send him a glare that would probably make some of those creeps at Pegasus' place piss their pants, but it rolls right off him, "I live with Kaiba. If I need information, I can just put caffeine in his little brother's blood and I'll know about everyone than I can possibly use. Besides," I admit with a little regret, "I'm pretty much retired now anyway." Yami gives me a questioning look, which I'll wait to answer till we're alone, if such a time ever comes. "So yeah, you don't have to work at Kaiba Corp anymore."
And, as predicted, he's bouncing. Hells, it looks like he's on a pogo stick the way he's going. "Can I celebrate? Can I push my desk out the window? Can I torch the dragon lady? Can I? Can I? Can I celebrate in style?"
Dear God, I've unleashed a hyperactive monster on the streets of Domino. No one's safe. Board up the windows, lock the doors, hide all sharp and/or explosive objects, pick a deity and pray - because Malik's on the loose.
"Celebrate after you explain a few things to me, Ishtar." What the - Oh, Kitty. Good timing too. And wow, he does a pretty good Treeboy impression, all glacier-cold and annoyed.
Which, of course, rolls right off Malik too. "Hi, Katsuya," he cheerfully greets. At my side, Yami winces at Malik's forwardness. Me, I'm not too surprised. Malik's not Japanese, after all, and while I know he understands formality rules, he doesn't give a shit about them. "Did you find my present then?" Kid in a candy store indeed. Still, the fuck? Has he finally hit Stalking Phase Two? Weird presents that apparently piss Kitty off would indicate a yes. Great... I didn't want to have to kill him tonight.
"Present?" Kitty prompts. Oh, I know we're going to regret this. On so many levels, we're going to regret this conversation.
"The leopard kitten." Yep, going into regret right now. I wonder if he means two legs or four though.
Kitty sighs heavily. Malik does that to a person after all. "And just why did you make the kit wait outside?"
"I knew you'd want to find him yourself," Malik shrugs as he says with nonchalance the sane world can only dream of.
Kitty looks ready to spit nails, but I've got a question for Malik myself first. "Whoa, timeout," I call, even making the timeout signal like they do in sports. What I had a lot of time to kill in that hospital room for two and a half weeks, and the sports channel is twenty-four/seven. "By 'kitten', you don't mean a Werekitty younger than Kitty here, do you?" Please say you don't, Malik. Lie to me if you have to. Because if you say 'yes', Kitty may not get his chance to gut Hirutani because I'll beat him to it.
"The kit's not more than sixteen." I'm gutting Hirutani with a plastic spork, then I'm shooting his ass full of lead. It won't kill him, but it'll hurt like hell. Then I'm going to carve him up like a turkey with a silver knife. And Kitty's still talking but now to Malik. "Just where did you find him?"
Another shrug from the nutball. "West side."
Please tell me you don't mean what I think you mean. "Please tell me that means 'west side of the mansion' or 'west side of the street'." Tell me you didn't pick up this kid on that side of town. If you do, I may have to go kill that bastard right now. Hell, we'll see what Mai does to him. He'd probably be begging me to torture and kill him when she's done... and Malik's shaking his head 'no'.
"West side of town, on a corner. Working." He stresses the word so his meaning is unmistakable. What else would a kid be doing on that side of town anyway? Even some of the most hardened bastards I know won't set foot over there. "I didn't think Katsuya would approve," hell, I don't approve either, but that's beside the point right now, since Malik's still talking but now to Kitty, "so I - ahem - took care of his handler and brought him to you."
"Hirutani'll try to take him away," Kitty responds. Hmm, this could be good. He sounds like he's getting protective. It'll do the alpha cat in him good to have another actual leopard around. He sounds like he's preparing himself for a fight as is.
"You won't let that happen." And everyone but me looks so surprised to see a serious Malik. Then again, I'm the only one who's known him for any length of time; that I know him best out of our little menagerie is probably to be expected. And knowing him best, I bet he'd like to help me off that Hirutani asshole. Out of the corner of my eye, I note Yami doesn't look much happier than I feel and is probably about to make his displeasure known.
"You two stay out of this," Kitty cuts in, his voice a low growl. Surely, surely, he doesn't mean Yami and me as 'you two'. I'm in on this one, god damn it! "You've got enough on your hands, Dorobou." I am not sitting this one out! "I'll take care of this on my own."
Yami's hand squeezes mine a little tighter, tugging it back towards him lightly. It's clearly a 'back down' gesture, and even thought I don't want to, I do. "At least tell Treeboy what's going on." That'll be my concession. If he can get this past Seto, I'll stay out of it. I won't be in the least bit happy about it, but I'll stay clear.
Kitty nods once sharply in response before turning towards the door. If I know him, and I do, he's going to head straight to Seto's office, walk in, and inform Treeboy flat out what he intends to do.
Suddenly things are happening very fast. Malik's eyes are changing subtly, a faint tightening and narrowing that lets anyone who knows to look - namely, me - that we're no longer dealing with Malik; this is Marik, and he's moving at speeds I usually attribute to vampires or Weres, crossing those few crucial feet to Kitty, grabbing a hold of his arm. Kitty turns, in time for Marik to use his other hand to grasp the back of Kitty's neck and pull him forward. Next thing any of us know, Marik is trying to eat Kitty's tonsils. And it looks like Kitty's kissing him back. I'll be damned. They seem to be enjoying themselves so maybe I won't have to kill anyone tonight. That'd be kind of nice. As much as I want to satisfy my curiosity on Malik's and Marik's mortality, I don't want to do it tonight.
Anyway, Marik, Kitty, tongue hockey. I think Kitty just tried to shove him away, but I can't be sure since Marik just turned whatever move Kitty made into a full-fledged grope. Hmm... I wonder if I should tell them to get a room. I wonder if Yami and I should just leave and let them have this one. That's starting to look like a really good idea, when Kitty finally shoves the nutball off, holding him at arms' length as he tries to get his breath back. Granted, Marik is still holding one of his arms and is looking way too proud of himself, but he is at arms' length nonetheless.
"What the fuck?!" Jounouchi growls, scrubbing at his mouth with his free hand. "Are you completely insane?!" Apparently, he's gone from Glacier Kitty to Volcano Kitty.
"You know you liked it." Does Marik have to sound so damn smug? Really!
"Marik," I draw out. "Quit messing with my cat." Let's hope he actually listens to me. It's been a long time since Tokyo, after all.
"Messing with Katsuya?" This isn't going to be good at all. He's feeling playful. "I haven't even warmed up yet."
I hold back the sigh that wants to emerge. "Don't make me kill you tonight." I doubt he'll listen at this point, so I hope I can get to Yami's gun in time to make a good headshot because otherwise I'm screwed. But wait, to my surprise, he drops Kitty's wrist. I'll ignore the lick he gives his hand. I'll also ignore Yami voicing my sigh of relief for me. "Better." And it looks like Kitty's beating a fast retreat for the door.
"I need to see to the kit and let Seto know what's going on, so I'll see you sometime that is not now," he gets out before he's gone, running like the dogs of war are hot on his trail. Can't say I blame him either.
"Way to go, Marik. You ran him off," I can't resist putting in. He turns that damnedable smirk on me, and I do my best to keep my face a blank. "I mean it, Marik. Don't mess with my cat, don't start one of your games with him, don't break his heart, or I will kill you in ways even you won't enjoy. Don't doubt it."
"If the suncat agrees though?" There's a question in there I'm not sure I want to know the answer to - or be the one to give the answer to.
"If he agrees and you swear on Malik's soul not to hurt him," I suck in a deep breath and slowly release it, regretting this already, "I'll stay out of the way."
"He'll agree before the week's out."
I feel my eyes narrow. "I'm serious, Marik. Jounouchi's not a game."
"No, of course he's not." He turns and heads towards the door Kitty left wide open. I hope the cat made good on his escape. Hand on the doorframe, he turns to look at me over his shoulder. "He's a challenge." And he's gone, right when I wanted to shoot him. A moment later, I hear the front door slam shut; good, Kisara didn't let him stick around.
"God, sometimes I hate that guy," I mutter under my breath, willing my body to untense.
"I thought he was your friend," Yami asks softly, moving closer to me. Probably just as well he stayed silent while the nutcase was in here; last thing I want is him in a row with my boyfriend.
"Malik's my friend, yeah. Marik's a sick, strange little fuck."
He makes a soft sound of agreement. "And they both seem to like Jounouchi-kun." That's my Yami, the master of understatement.
I'm pretty sure I'm about to go off on a rant, probably about how Malik and Marik never agree on anything, when Yami's hand touches my cheek lightly. I know this signal; a second later, he leans the rest of the way towards me, and our lips meet. God, I love the way he tastes: like sin, dark chocolate, and something else that is wholly Yami.
I don't care that we aren't getting very far very fast. I don't care how many hang-ups we have between the two of us. I don't care that we still have yet to figure out what kind of power he really has. I don't care if I die tomorrow... Because I enjoy our little times like these together.
Great, he's turning me into a sap.
23 June 2005
Wow. Sorry that took so long. Believe it or not, I belabored over that last section, from "He makes a soft sound of agreement" till the end for hours. Yes, hours. I'm too much of a perfectionist.
I'm still working hard on Blood and Sacrifice, but I'm also still working on Metal Heart, my Yuugiou submission for a novella challenge. So please bear with me while I work on both of them. Thanks! See you all next chapter!